Friday, December 7, 2012

Slaying Dragons

What has Brandon Glover accomplished in less then half a season with the T-birds that Calvin Pickard never did in his four seasons here? He won a road game in Kennewick as Seattle beat the Tri-City Americans, 8-4, Thursday night at the Toyota Center. It's the first meaningful win in that building since Seatte won a playoff game their in April of 2008. Here's another trivia tidbit for you; combined number of goals in the 'Birds last two road wins in Kennewick? Fifteen. The 'Birds won that 2008 playoff game 7-1.

This is not a slight against Pickard, far from it. Pickard had an outstanding WHL career with Seattle, one of the best to wear a Thunderbirds jersey, and did all he could to get Seattle a win in the Tri-Cities.

No, this just points out that the talent around Glover this season is deeper. Seattle had quality players on the roster in Pickard's time here, just not enough of them. You also have to take into account that the Tri-City talent pool is not as deep as it was the past four seasons, but that should take nothing away from Seattle's win last night, coming from two goals down late in the second period.

Most importantly though, there has been an attitude adjustment with this team and it shows in the way they have gone about winning three in a row over teams with a combined record of 57-23-3-4; teams that are a combined 17-8-1-1 in their last 27 games against teams other then the T-birds. Remember, on Sunday the T-birds snapped a 12 game losing streak to Kamloops that dating back to the 2009-10 season. To paraphrase the famous Peter Finch line from the 1976 movie Network, "The T-birds are mad as hell, and they're not gonna take it anymore!"

Thursday the T-birds were led by the line of Rouse-Swenson-Sanvido line that put up nine points (4g, 5a) and was +13. Seth Swenson came close to a hat trick and did a good job going hard to the net.
The 19 year old from Parker, CO has quietly reached the ten goal plateau. Swenson now has 17 points (10g, 7a) in 29 games. Those are the same numbers he put up for the T-birds in 34 games last year after being acquired at the trade deadline last January from Portland. In his last 63 games with Seattle he has 34 points (20g,14a). In his previous 132 games with the Winterhawks he had 21 points (5g,16a).

It's enjoyable to watch a different "hero" step forward each night, but it's even better to see multiple "heroes" putting their weight into each game. Thursday, four different players recorded two or more points. When is the last time Seattle had five players at +2 or better in a game? it happened last night.

With all the points being tallied up by the T-birds forwards it was two defensemen who really impressed me, especially in the second half of that game. Jesse Forsberg epitomizes the effort head coach Steve Konowalchuk wants from everyone of his players. He had a fabulous night at both ends of the ice. He finished at +2 with two assists.

Meanwhile, Jared Hauf just continues to get better. Last night, at times, he looked more like a steady 19 year old NHL drafted player then an NHL draft eligible 17 year old. His skating is improving, although there is still room for more improvement, but he's so much better using his size and reach then he was just two months ago. While Hauf didn't register a point, he was a solid +3 on the night.

Still, the heart and soul of this team is Luke Lockhart. He was the best player on the ice. What he lacks in "finesse", he makes up for with effort and hard work. If the rest of the roster is following his example, then this team is in a good place. In fact, Seattle's two 20-yr old forwards helped push the pace last night as Brendan Rouse finished with three helpers and was a +6.

Now, Seattle can't have a letdown. Travel in the WHL is tough. Seattle bused through the snowy mountain pass to get to the game in Kennewick. After the win, they bused right back through that pass to get home in the wee morning hours. Tonight they get back on the bus to make the short trip through rush hour traffic up to Everett to take on the Silvertips, who haven't played since Wednesday. No excuses though. Go out play hard.

In memory of Bruce McDonald, 1971-2012

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